Republicans like to call themselves the family values party and the moral values party. The problem is that the media have allowed them to get away with it even as their social and economic policies are anathema to family values and moral values. Here are some inconvenient truths.
Red State family values farce
Nicholas Kristof wrote in his New York Times article titled “Blue States Practice the Family Values Red States Preach the following.
This is complicated terrain with lots of exceptions, and the recent scandals involving Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. and Al Franken underscore that liberals can be skunks as much as anyone else. Yet if one looks at blue and red state populations as a whole, it’s striking that conservatives champion “family values” even as red states have high rates of teenage births, divorce and prostitution. In contrast, people in blue states don’t trumpet these family values but often seem to do a better job living them.
According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 32 states, those with the highest percentage of high school students who say they have had sex are Mississippi, Delaware, West Virginia, Alabama and Arkansas. All but Delaware voted Republican in the last presidential election.
Meanwhile, the five states with the lowest proportion of high school students who have had sex were New York, California, Maryland, Nebraska and Connecticut. All but Nebraska voted Democratic.
But it does not end there.
Nine of the 10 states with the highest teen birthrates voted Republican in 2016. And nine of the 10 states with the lowest teen birthrates voted Democratic.
“Red regions of the country have higher teen pregnancy rates, more shotgun marriages and lower average ages at marriage and first birth,” Naomi Cahn and June Carbone wrote in their important 2010 book, “Red Families v. Blue Families.”
The answer to the higher dysfunction in the Red States is simple, implement Progressive policies. Kristof writes,
So the deeper problem seems to be the political choices that conservatives make, underinvesting in public education and social services (including contraception). This underinvestment leaves red states poorer and less educated — and thus prone to a fraying of the social fabric.
So let’s drop the wars over family values. Liberals and conservatives alike don’t want kids pregnant at 16, and we almost all seek committed marriages that last. It’s worth noting that Bible-thumping blowhards like Roy Moore don’t help achieve those values, while investments in education and family planning do.
Remember when your conservative neighbor starts talking about the evils of liberalism or progressivism, remind them that it is the values of progressives where good outcomes occur more frequently. Reality still counts.
Also published on Medium.